To investigate the prebiotic potential of burdock inulin (B-INU), the in vitro and in vivo effects of B-INU on bacterial growth were studied. B-INU significantly stimulated the growth of bifidobacteria in Man-Rogosa-Sharp (MRS) medium, anaerobically. Compared with chicory inulin (C-INU), long-chain inulin (L-INU) and fructooligosaccharides (FOS), 1% (w/v) B-INU promoted the specific growth rate of beneficial bacteria. The decreases of media pH with B-INU were almost the same as that with C-INU and FOS. In vivo, B-INU significantly increased the number of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria (P<0.05) in cecal content. Mice fed with B-INU, C-INU and FOS for 14 days had greater number of cecal beneficial bacteria population than those fed with L-INU for 14 days. In addition, all fructans did not cause any side effects, such as eructation and bloating. Results indicated that inulin extracted from edible burdock showed prebiotic properties that could promote health.